Better Beets

I recently paid a visit to an awesome new burger joint called Salvation Burger.  They served me an amazing beet salad that included every part of the beet.  It was such a simple salad, and I knew I had to duplicate the cook on those beets.  When I grow up to be a professional chef, I wanna be just like Chef April Bloomfield.  I enjoyed the salad so much, that I purchased Chef Bloomfield’s book A Girl and Her Greens, click the book title and you can purchase the book as well.

There were several steps to get to the simple dish, because you have to treat the components very carefully.Water with garlic and thyme

First, I had to boil water salt, garlic cloves and thyme.
Beet Stems and Leaves

After separating the vegetable from the stems and leaves I added the beets to the boiling water, roots skin and all.

I separated the yellow beets from the red beets when I realized the water was going to color the yellow beets.

After the beets were cooked in the water until they are tender, I removed the beets from the water and threw away the garlic and thyme.  Then it was time to cook the stems and the leaves separately since they require a different cooking time.  Once the leaves and stems are cooked in the seasoned water from the beets, you simply toss the beets in olive oil and fresh tarragon leaves, shallots and a great balsamic vinegar.  The best discovery that I made in following Chef Bloomfield’s recipe was the finishing salt that she uses in her recipes.  Maldon Sea Salt is the answer to lifting up all savory recipes, I am convinced. 

The balance between the tarragon and balsamic with the sweetness of the beets is just an awesome surprise.

I know that some readers have been looking for more vegetable ideas to add to their meals, and I highly suggest Chef April Bloomfield’s book to raise the level of your vegetable dishes.  Please feel free to leave comments, and give me feedback

 

Antiguan Breakfast

Traditional Antiguan Breakfast

Growing up I was so hesitant to try different things.  I grew up in Michigan, and was closest to my mom’s family that was local, so most of my family gatherings and holidays reflected my maternal grandparents southern (Georgia and Arkansas) roots of collard greens, macaroni and cheese, ham, dressing, you know all the southern staples. Every year when Holy Week came around, my dad who is from the island of Antigua, would make a traditional breakfast from his home.  This was the one time of year that we would have this meal.  When I say we, I totally mean my mom and dad.  When my dad told me he was making salt fish, spinach with eggplant, and ducana dumpling, I had very little interest, well the ducana dumpling was never denied.   Having not been around my dad’s side of the family as frequently I never saw my cousins eating this traditional island food, or paid attention until I was older.  Anyway I will share that story with the curry chicken blog post, stay tuned.

My uncle makes this breakfast the best, and I look for it anytime I am over his house on a Sunday morning in New York.

I now cook the traditional Antiguan breakfast for Good Friday as well, and embrace all of my Antiguan traditions.  So I thought I would share with you how to make the breakfast for you and your family.  Please feel free to leave comment or pin or share this blog post.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Antiguan Breakfast
Be sure to start preparing the dumplings the night before, so that all that remains will be 30 min boil the next morning. Don't forget to soak the salt fish overnight in water and change the water once to remove the salty flavor
Author:
Cuisine: Caribbean
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 8
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • Ducana Dumpling
  • 2 cups of coconut shredded (fresh or sweetened)
  • 2 cups of white sweet potato
  • 1¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1½ cup flour
  • ½ cup water or coconut water
  • Salt Fish
  • 16 oz. salted cod
  • 1½ bell pepper (red, green, and yellow)
  • 1 large onion (thinly sliced in rings)
  • 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
  • 4 oz of tomato paste
  • ½ cup of water
  • Chop Up
  • 1 large egg plant
  • 1½ container of baby spinach

 

Ducana Dumpling

I started with the preparation for the ducana dumpling.  Ducana dumplings are the sweet part of the meal.  It is a really tasty blend of sweet potatoes, coconut, sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and coconut water.  You simply mix all of the ingredients and spoon it on foil squares to make small foil packets (traditionally banana leaves).

sweet potato for ducana
coconut for ducana

sweet potato for ducana

I wanted to do this dish as traditional as possible, so I started with a whole coconut, and worked my biceps to crack it open, and shred the flesh on a grater.  I also shredded the sweet potato on the grater as well.
seasoning the ducana

After I added all of the seasoning, the memories started to come back, when I knew what was coming together in the kitchen.
 flour for ducana

After adding the flour I mixed it all together and started scooping the mix on foil squares.

You can cook them right away, or make them ahead and cook them later.

I decided to make mine a day in advance, and then boil them for 30 minutes

Salt Fish

This is the part that made me the most hesitant as a kid.  This salted cod.  It makes the kitchen kinda stink for a little bit when you open the package.  I purchased the cod that had the bones removed so that I wouldn’t have to spit out bones as I took every bite, though, I think that is kind of part of the experience.


I immediately put the fish in a pot and add water, to start the 24 hour soaking, I changed the water about twice through the 24 hours.  And once I was ready to cook it, I drained it one more time and added fresh water, this gets most of the salty taste out.  I boiled 16oz of fish for 45 minutes.

While the fish was cooking I began cooking the vegetables (green pepper, red pepper, yellow pepper, garlic, onions, scotch bonnet) for the salt fish, and once it was softening I add tomato paste and a bit of water until I get the right color.

I broke up the cooked salt fish into small bite sized pieces.

Once the fish was broken up into small pieces, I added it to the vegetables.  And after looking at dish at its final state, it is so pretty, I don’t know why I was so hesitant to try it.

The last part of the meal is the easiest, we call it Chop Up, and it is simply made by sautéing eggplant and mashing it into steamed spinach.

I got a little anxious and didn’t get my eggplant smashed enough, but the flavor was there.  Whenever I prepare this or eat it, I think of a song my dad used to play all of the time for me by Mighty Sparrow (Calypso genius, ask my dad).  Though Sparrow’s song apparently had a bit of a mixed meaning, but oh well, I like the song.

We typically eat the breakfast with a crusty french baguette, and the perfect bite is a little bit of everything at once.   My uncle makes this amazing spicy cucumber salad that is pickled in, well I don’t know what but I love it, and recently his son sent me the recipe for it so I can’t wait to try to duplicate it as well.  Thanks Deke, I love you and get better soon.

Healthy Jump Start (Day 10)

There is nothing like completions and achievement.  I have successfully completed the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse again.  I decided not to make it about the scale, and completely about jump starting back into my healthy eating focus.  When I say healthy eating, I mean that I will be focusing on making sure that I eat a more balanced meal going forward.  Each meal will have a protein, and a vegetable or a healthy carb.

  Day 9 of the smoothie cleanse included spinach, water, apple, frozen mangoes, frozen strawberries, stevia and flax meal.  Around this time is when I start contemplating stopping short.  I mean, why not, I was already winning after 8 days.  But, I stuck it out to reach my goal of completion.

Day 10 of the smoothie cleanse included kale, spring mix, water, frozen peaches, pineapple, stevia, and flax.  Now the goal is to ease into regular balanced meals gently, to avoid upsetting your whole entire world… If you know what I mean.  

Let me know if you try the cleanse, and keep me posted on your progress.  Feel free to leave a comment.

Healthy Jump Start Day 8

Yesterday I completed day 8 and in my spare time I have done nothing but meal plan for after this cleanse.  It is so important to remain on point after the cleanse to continue to feel the focus and clarity that the cleanse provides.  I am eager to complete this, only because I am craving healthy options and cooking, since the only action my kitchen has seen as of late is in my Vitamix, but alas I begin Day 9


Day 6 included a smoothie with spinach, water, pineapple, peaches, bananas, stevia and flax meal.  The most delicious smoothies is on day 6 and day 7.

Day 7 included a smoothie with spring mix, spinach, water banana, pineapple, mango, mixed berries, stevia, and flax meal.

Day 8 included a smoothie with kale, spinach, water, apple, banana, blueberries, stevia, and flax meal.

If you don’t want to complete an entire 10-Day Smoothie Cleanse, try to add the smoothies to your breakfast options, or do a 5 day smoothie cleanse.

 

 

Healthy Jump Start Day 5

Day 5 is complete and Day 6 begins.  I started the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse this week and I am feeling so much better each day.  The cravings for fatty food have gone away and I am completely focused and actually looking forward to cooking and eating some healthy meals.  If you want to lean more about the Green Smoothie Cleanse, you can visit the Facebook page where the author and nutritionist, JJ Smith shares great tips to stay on track as well as inspiring stories to keep you encouraged.

My day 4 consisted of a smoothie with kale, spinach, apples, frozen peaches, frozen mixed berries, stevia, and flax meal.  Snacking on salad, and almonds and apples with almond butter.

Day 5 consisted of spinach, frozen peaches, seedles grapes, blueberries, stevia, and flax meal.  Snacking on salad, and almonds and apples with almond butter.

Grilled vegetables

freefoodphotos.com credit

The coming blog posts will focus on meal planning, but still enjoying the food.  No plain chicken breast, broccoli, and brown rice.  I think that as long as I enjoy the process and plan ahead I will be in great shape… literally.  So be prepared for some great breakfast options, and snack ideas to add to your food options.

 

Healthy Jump Start Day 3

Day 3 of the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith is over and I have to say, the word I think of is clarity.  One of the things I really like about this jump start is that it provides an energy boost.  The food that makes you sluggish and keeps you lazy is eliminated in order to allow you to feed your body with fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats and proteins. Plus I’m not “hangry” (hungry and angry)

The first few days I was craving the burger I had at Umami Burger in NYC over the weekend.

Umami Manly Burger

But by the middle of day 3, I was wanting more fruits and vegetables, like this kale salad.

Kale Salad

Day 2 Smoothie was a blend of spring mix, banana, apple, strawberries and flax meal.  Day 3 Smoothie was a blend of spring mix, spinach, blueberries, apple, and flax meal.

I am more alert all day at work already, and I focus a lot on my water intake throughout the day with the smoothies.  I can’t wait to continue this and start sharing the healthy recipes that I will be making.

Healthy Jump Start

Just about once a quarter I like to refresh my nutrition with a nutritional wake up, or refocus.  One of my favorite nutritional refreshes is the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse by JJ Smith.  This cleanse allows me to refocus myself on simple foods, and get my water intake under control.  I also use the time to reflect on a better commitment to myself, meaning my nutrition, my fitness, as well as my personal growth.  You can purchase the book here.  Typically I lose about 10 lbs with the cleanse, but more than that, the 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse helps with my focus, and my energy, and the weight loss that it kick starts certainly doesn’t hurt.

1 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

 

Today is day 1 of the 10 day Green Smoothie cleanse for me and what I find is that the smoothies are easy to drink and most of them are pretty tasty.  You would be surprised at how much you can mask kale, spinach and spring mix in a green smoothie.   Each smoothie includes the nutrients that are needed throughout the day

Day 1 was a Berry Green smoothie with a blend of spinach, apples, frozen mangoes, frozen strawberries, grapes and water.  All smoothies include flax meal and stevia.  The cleanse does give you a lot of options for snacks, like raw and crunchy vegetables, and high protein snacks like nuts, and boiled eggs.

I am pairing this refresh with slowly reintroducing running to my workout regimen, y’all pray for me. Me and running broke up at the end of last year, but I a hoping that by starting a Couch to 5 K program for the next several weeks, I will begin to enjoy the run again, because I know that the results are worth it.  The next few posts will cover my experience as I move thru this cleanse, and will be followed by a series of healthy meal options.

Italian Chicken

A video popped up online a while back that was an easy Italian flavored chicken dish.  I am always looking for healthy recipes that I can add to the mix of all of my go to recipes.  In order to allow myself the pesto that has parmesan cheese, I swapped out the typical basil and used spinach, basil and lots of kale instead, plus I added less olive oil to create a paste with garlic cloves and pine nuts, and seasoned with salt and pepper.   A typical pesto is thinner and is made with basil. garlic cloves, pine nuts and olive oil.  When I make this recipe again, I will cut into the breast to allow the pesto to season more of the chicken.  Also don’t forget to season the chicken before doing anything.  Yup, my bad, I got in a rush and missed a salting opportunity.  Don’t let that happen to you.

Italian Chicken with Kale PestoItalian chicken with pesto and tomatoJust top the pesto with slices of tomatoes and season again.
One Pan Italian ChickenThis dish is great for the family and if you already have the pesto, it is a fairly quick and tasty entree.  I served mine with “zoodles” aka #spiralized zucchini.  It was so tasty I don’t have a complete photo…whoops.  Enjoy.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

Have you ever combined 2 things that you love to eat, and decided it elevated those 2 items 10 times more than you ever expected?  I catered a baby shower and wanted to include a dessert that ended the baby shower with a bang.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Large

When I tell you this recipe is a crowd pleaser, there was not an empty plate returned.  I will warn you that there are several components to this dessert.  There are even chopped apples in the blondie crust, yes I said it, blondie crust.  Not only do you have apples in the crust, but there is caramel in the cheesecake in the filling, and cool whip to make it lighter.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

The cheesecake would be delicious if left alone with just the blondie crust and the filling.  But, when you top the cheesecake with flavorful cooked apples and more caramel, you can see why it is a winner.

Sliced Carmel Apple Cheesecake
I found this recipe that combines the flavors of apple pie, cheesecake and a blondie on a site called Baking Beauty.  I can not wait to try more recipes from this site.  So to all of my family members that have been asking about this recipe, its no secret.  Pay a visit to Baking Beauty is where you can find this awesome recipe

Montclair Red Eye

I love Montclair, New Jersey.  Man, I sure wish I explored the area more before I moved to Georgia.  Luckily, I still get a chance to visit the area.  Recently I had breakfast plans at one of the other restaurants in the area, and when plan A turned out to be closed on Sunday’s, so Red Eye Cafe became the better plan B.

With the record low temperatures we ordered chai tea, and were instantly intrigued by the dirty chai on the menu, I am guessing I am late to this creation, but I am so glad we discovered it.  For those that are like me that had never head of it, a dirty chai latte is simply a chai latte with a shot of espresso.  Now, let me just say that we were laughing at the people coming in from the freezing cold to this crowded cafe to pick up a coffee.  I joked that the Ethiopian and Kenyan coffee that these folks were serving must be something else with all the locals just stopping in to pick up cups of coffee.  Well, I would be right behind them if I was in the neighborhood.  I didn’t have to do anything to the cup that they served, and it was a great size too.

Dirty Chai

The Huevos Rancheros is served with the perfect amount of hash.  The salsa ranchero is so flavorful, I was a little hesitant, but it packed a great bit of heat for this special item.

Huevos Rancheros

The pumpkin pancakes that were on the menu the day that we went, were perfect, so perfect they didn’t need the syrup.  I was offered to help my self to the pancakes, and looked up and they were gone, I guess the offer was taken back on a second thought.

Pumpkin Pancakes with honey whipped cream